Last updated: June 8, 2020 – 3:43 PM

To Our Valued Tenant Members, Volunteers, Partners, Donors, Board, Staff, and Community: In our work together to create equitable solutions to address inherently unjust housing disparities in Chicago and across the nation, we need to confront the ugly history of structural racism and white supremacy. Our vision of safe, decent and affordable housing is based in the knowledge that in order to thrive, people must have a home and a community in which they feel safe. Unfortunately, members of the Black community do not feel -and are not- safe since their very right to live and breathe is under routine attack. As a social justice organization that educates, organizes and empowers tenants, MTO has to call out the historical and ongoing immoral injustices imposed on Black Americans through state-sanctioned murder and violence.  Our passion for justice compels us to act and join the protests happening in the streets of Chicago. Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement that continues to bring awareness and demand justice for racist violations inflicted upon Black people. MTO stands in solidarity with Chicago’s and the nation’s Black communities to demand justice and an end to police murders. 


John Bartlett

Message from Aisha Truss-Miller, Development Manager 

Courtesy of an unknown Black Lives Matter protester and unknown photographer.

I come to you both brokenhearted and hopeful, exhausted and with loss of appetite. Chicago gun violence, COVID-19, more work via working remotely, televised lynchings, heightened anti-Black policing, profiling, and violence during national uprisings against state-sanctioned violence against Black people- too much BS. Composing this message is very emotional.  I hope this message is artful, strong, bold, honest, and articulate, so the goal of the message is received with open ears and open hearts. Finding the “right” words is a challenge because I am enraged, depressed, afraid, sleep deprived, and anxiously shaking as I type with clenched teeth, boiling blood, and a tear-stained face. 

I’m tired of anti-Black racism and its toll on my spirit; it is an unwanted weight carried by the spirit, mind, and body of Black youth and Black people working from [community] blocks, board rooms, courtrooms, classrooms, and other spaces. We have no choice but to carry this hefty load, that we aren’t responsible for packing. The labor of carrying it and unpacking it over and over across generations is cumbersome and traumatic. Unjustly, there has been no compensation for the genocide, bondage, and torture of my people.  Hundreds of years after our ancestors were kidnapped, raped, bred, and murdered Black Americans are still lawfully terrorized and treated less than human. We carry the load with hunched-backs as society imposes unrealistically high expectations of “properly” challenging anti-Black racism in all its forms. 

Anti-Black racism is inflicted upon us by systems built on racist policies and practices, by communities of color, by our allies, and by the people we share African ancestry with; and, at its root is white supremacy which produces shiny fruit that’s rotten to the core. Anti-Black racism is a world Black people navigate every second and everywhere- our work, our play, and our nightmares. Anti-Black racism determines where we live, how long we can live there, the ability to live and breathe, the ability to be born healthy, eat well, learn well, be treated well, getting paid well, and access for space to heal and be well.  

When it comes to challenging anti-Black racism there are no exemptions, no free-zones, and no space for replies such as, “she’s preaching to the choir”. Right now, there is only space to actively listen, learn more, and self-reflect to further decolonize ideals and traditions that give strength to anti-Black racism.  Right now, there is only space to act and continue the uprising with intentional conversations and actions with your family and community- with our families and communities. Now is the time to seriously re-evaluate the structures, policies, and inclusion of the agencies and institutions we are part of and support, including corporations, non-profits, faith institutions, and government.  We will not accept the legacy of failing to deliver justice to families of Black people killed by police and white supremacists. We will not accept the legacy of failing to deliver justice to Black people in general. We demand justice now.

The uprising is said to have threatened the peace and comfort of so many.  I’ve been searching for peace and comfort my whole life. Searching for it as hard as my parents, grandparents, and great-grandmother did. Her name was Mary Briscoe- a sharecropper from Mississippi who moved to Chicago around 1940 to escape the continued trauma of anti-Black racism, specifically labor exploitation, the Jim Crow south, and lynchings. 80 years later a lynching of a Black man in America is caught on tape, yet again. Yes, a lynching- the act of killing a person accused or suspected of a criminal act, that’s judged and prosecuted publicly and without due process as a form of power and control (and we know that even the due process is unfair and rooted in white supremacy and anti-Blackness). 

Black Americans radically dream and imagine liberation. We organize and advocate for transformation, and work on our own decolonization- and this is expected of us. We share ourselves and our money with little to no acknowledgement- it is expected. We share our time, talents, and intellect voluntarily, for unfair wages, and for others to hijack and label as their own- and it is expected. We have given love and respect in abundance, even when it was not reciprocated- and, it is always expected. We strive to build movements for an equitable and just society where Black Lives Matter, and that everyone will benefit from. You can expect peace when Black Americans get the peace and justice we deserve. The peace and justice and that is long overdue to the Black community.

So I need for you to Say It, Scream It, and Mean It- “Black Lives Matter.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Atatiana Jefferson. Charleena Lyles. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Laquan McDonald. Rekia Boyd. Trayvon Martin. Aiyana Jones. Eric Garner. Michael Brown Jr. Oscar Grant. Philando Castile. Terrence Crutcher. Kayla Moore.
Walter Scott. Samuel Dubose. Freddie Gray. And the list goes on, and on, and on. 

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